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I hope the question is within the rules. I have problems understanding the Growl concept! Actually they answer the most basic question nowhere: Why do I need Growl?

Why would I ask this? Because I consider that most applications already have notifications, especially IM messengers like Pidgin! lol So I feel a bit dumb and confused and before I take the seemingly huge effort (seems it was developed by Nerds using Macs...) to install and configure it, I want to understand why I need an additional "round" of notifications (or get the internal notifications replaced?)?

I mean, does it do anything than "beautify" the whole process? I don't need a (pseudo) standardized set of notifications, I don't need to "customize" my notifications towards my "desktop / Windows theme" or anything like that, I just need stuff that actually brings plain, basic, straight to the point benefits!

So the question is, if Growl can deliver or not - and why it is so popular? There seem to be several plugins (needed?!), while the last time I (admittedly already did!) try Growl some years (?) ago on Windows, it was constantly crashing and simply not working to such an extent I could only uninstall it.

By the way, I am using Win7 x64 Professional SP1, in case this is an issue too. ;)

Thanks for your explanations in advance!


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migrated from Apr 12 '11 at 19:51

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A standartized notification system is the main benefit. Without it, programs wanting to use notification not only have to reinvent the wheel, they do it badly, not to mention lack of consistency. Some fade in, others slide in (or creep in slower than anything in the world), yet others just pop up. And if two programs are trying to get to the user, their notifications overlap each other. A few programs are kind enough to actually use the "balloon popups" provided by Windows Explorer, but how many web browsers or IM programs do that? (Zero.)

I'm not crazy for eye-candy like some, but if I'm going to be bombarded by "Message from Joe" and "Download complete" all day, I'd rather not see ugly-ass popups with glitchy animations. (I still remember MSN Messenger...)

(FWIW, Pidgin does not have any notifications out of the box, at least not on Linux or Windows.)

Growl and libnotify solve this by having a dedicated program display notifications, manage their styling, positioning and stacking. This leads to an interface much more integrated to the entire desktop environment. (I'm not talking about customizability: Ubuntu's NotifyOSD does not offer any options at all – it just does its job.)

Since the notification daemon is a separate program, it can easily be replaced. Especially on Linux: GNOME 2 has notification-daemon, Ubuntu has NotifyOSD, GNOME 3 has it as part of GNOME Shell. They all match the overall user interface. Of course, Growl notifications look like proper OS X notifications too.

Also, it's easier for the programmer – all he needs to do is to issue a library call and let the notification server handle the rest. There's no more need to duplicate the code for opening the prettified windows, handling multiple notifications, or finding the right corner. Less code duplication = less bugs. (Windows comes with the taskbar on bottom, but many prefer it on the top or side, and notifications ought to follow the "systray"/"notification icon area".) I can use libnotify even on irssi, a purely terminal-based program, with just four lines of Perl. (Four more for Growl.)

Summary: 1) Overall consistency between programs; 2) Better integration with the desktop environment. 3) More eye-candy.


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Thanks grawity, really makes sense! :) – grunwald2.0 Apr 17 '11 at 20:01

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